Women are doing big things in the tech industry! Globally, tech is, in many ways, leading the equality charge, particularly when it comes to getting women on boards. The industry is making real efforts to support jobs for women in tech and IT, by helping young women figure out ‘what kind of job is right for me’. Of course, it also helps to have a few badass female role models to look up to, so we’ve rounded up a few local industry leaders that are doing big things in the technology space.
Kimberley Taylor: Founder of Loop
The inventor of a new delivery management platform software called Loop, Kimberley Taylor is the brand of female South African leadership and ingenuity that we should be investing in. Confident in her ability to turn an idea into an industry disruptor, the tenacious entrepreneur dove headfirst into the logistics industry, a field she knew very little about.
Built to empower companies, by enabling them to cleverly optimise and scale their delivery systems, Loop started with a third-year chemical engineering assignment at Wits in 2015. Taylor was tasked with developing an algorithm that shortened the possible distance between cities for a travelling salesman. One year later, a conversation with a friend in the logistics space helped her connect the dots. As it turned out, there was a massive need for a digitised platform that connected providers with their supply network and customers in an efficient, cost-effective way. Today, Loop is a total game-changer for South African businesses, with its business portfolio including major players in the delivery and service space like Nando’s, Checkers and Servest.
From those first small seeds planted in 2015, Loop has grown in leaps and bounds as Kimberley and her team learn more about specific client needs and running a business. Perhaps the biggest lesson we can take from Taylor’s story is not to be afraid of the unknown. As Taylor explains, her unconventional entry into the fast-paced, unpredictable environment of Logistics shielded her a little from what might have scared others off. “I didn’t know anything about business, says Taylor. “I didn’t have adults in my life that were in that corporate space. In some ways, I actually think that helped a lot.”
Anna Groenewald: Co-founder of TallOrder Solutions
Picture this: You visit a restaurant, and instead of your waitron whipping out a notebook and dutifully jotting down your order before returning to the kitchen to pop the docket on the pass, you were able to order directly from tableside through to the kitchen — reducing the risk of an order being incorrectly placed by up to 70%. Your waiter was there to assist you with information around the menu, while remaining on the floor to keep a watchful eye on you, topping up your glass without any desperate beckoning on your part.
Thanks to the vision of Dana Buys and Anna Groenewald, co-founders of TallOrder Solutions (previously CloudOne.mobi), this is now a reality. The local SME designs innovative cloud-based point of sale (POS) solutions for the retail, beauty and hospitality industries and is making big moves in the tech space. The company has caught the attention of investors with a view to accelerating technological transformation in Africa, having received R80m in funding to date.
And the best bit, they’re passionate about supporting the local technology industry and providing solutions that are tailor-made for South African businesses. Anna maintains that in order to design cloud solutions that operate optimally, one needs to take the local context into account. Africa’s internet is notoriously slow, unreliable and expensive, and therefore cloud solutions created by more developed markets don’t always work as well as they’re intended over here. The local landscape demands robust offline processing capacity and the POS system must be able to be isolated from the speed and availability of the underlying internet, which TallOrder has factored into its product design. Today, it’s considered a pioneer in cloud-based solutions for the Sub-Saharan African market.
Claire Carter: Lenovo Women In Lenovo Leadership Ambassador
Lenovo Marketing Director, MEA, and Women In Lenovo Leadership Ambassador, Claire Carter is quickly becoming a corporate giant in her own right. Carter has over a decade of experience working for leading international Blue Chip companies with a proven track record of growing brand and business delivery. She has been instrumental in growing the Lenovo brand across the Middle East and Africa which has resulted in Lenovo achieving the number one spot in market share across the Gulf region. As Women in Lenovo Leadership Ambassador for the Middle East and Africa, Claire Carter is in charge of driving women’s empowerment initiatives to enable them to flourish and succeed in the tech workplace.
Since taking on her role as Marketing Director at Lenovo, Carter has proven to be a huge shaker in the industry, especially when it comes to diversifying the tech industry. Carter has been and continues to be a pioneering force for women in the industry, by working closely with Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL) network. Furthermore, Claire Carter has been an advocate for women in the gaming industry, and has assisted in highlighting the various different paths and career options that women can choose from, both on the technical and creative sides of the field.
Read our full interview with Claire here.